James Gillies

James Gillies

1924 - 2015

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Obituary of James Gillies

Jim passed peacefully at North York General Hospital in Toronto on Sunday, December 13. He is missed by his loving family, many friends and colleagues. Jim was born in the village of Teeswater in Western Ontario to Dr. M.H. Gillies and his wife Gladys, a family that was part of the town and region from its earliest days. At 17, Jim attended the University of Western Ontario, and majored in Economics. His time at Western was interrupted by the war when Jim joined the RCAF in 1944 and served as air crew overseas. Upon his return Jim finished his degree with honours and decided to continue his education at Brown University in the USA where he earned an MA. Jim continued his education at Indiana University where he was granted his PhD in Urban Land Economics. After graduation, Jim accepted a professorship at UCLA in California where he rose to prominence in his field, gained his full professorship and was assistant Dean. Jim married his wife Betsy and welcomed children David and Cathy at this time. Jim was always longing to return to Canada and his family in Ontario. In 1965, the opportunity arose for him to return to act as the founding Dean of the Faculty of Administrative Studies at York University – now the Schulich School of Business. Over seven years Jim built the school from a big idea into the strong base for what is one of the leading schools in North America today. During this period Jim made many friends and grew strong relationships throughout the Canadian business community. He served on many corporate boards and helped establish a world-class zoo in Toronto. Jim and Betsy welcomed children James and Ted during this time. He loved the time with his family. Christmas was always special as were many, many memorable summers in Pointe-au-Baril, Muskoka and the Bruce Peninsula. In 1972, Jim ran for parliament, winning a seat in the Don Valley riding in Toronto and going on to act as shadow finance minister in the PC opposition to the Trudeau Government. He won reelection to a second term in Don Valley in 1975. Jim ran for leadership of the PC party towards the end of his second term in parliament, throwing his support toward the eventual winner Joe Clark. Jim served as senior policy advisor to the Prime Minister during the Clark government, accompanying him to the G7 Tokyo summit. After his time in government, Jim returned as a professor at York University, in the school of business. He was instrumental in continuing to build the school he founded to the stature it has today. Jim chaired several programs while at York, most recently the Canada-Russia Corporate Governance Program. He always had great passion and energy for teaching business students, being with them and sharing in their fresh ideas and enthusiasm. Jim has a great many friends and colleagues from this time both in academia and in the business community where he was a member of several corporate boards. Jim was honored in many ways for his dedication to education and public service. He was awarded honorary doctorates from York, Simon Fraser and the Moscow Higher School of Economics. At York, Jim was awarded the title of University Professor. As a proud Canadian he was deeply honored by the award of the Order of Canada for his contributions to education Jim leaves behind a loving family: his wife of 62 years Betsy, children David (Kathy), Cathy, James (Cindy) and Ted (Jacquie), grandchildren Jackie, Gwen, James and David and several nieces and nephews. Jim was the last surviving member of his family, being predeceased by his siblings, Helen Wilson (James), Don (Francis) and John (Poppy). Even with his successful career in many capacities, Jim held dear most of all, family, friends and his roots as a small town boy from Teeswater, Ontario. A funeral service to commemorate Jim’s life will be held at the Teeswater United Church (13 Elizabeth Street South), Teeswater on Saturday, January 2nd, 2016 at 1:00 p.m. He will be laid to rest in the family plot at Culross-Teeswater Cemetery. A Celebration of Life to be held in Toronto in the spring. In lieu of flowers, memorial donations to the Teeswater Town Hall Renovation Fund (cheques payable to Municipality of South Bruce) would be appreciated as expressions of sympathy.


No Visitation


Teeswater United Church (13 Elizabeth Street South), Teeswater Saturday, January 2nd, 2016 at 1:00 p.m.


Culross-Teeswater Cemetery